BYUH forfeits PacWest title
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
The defending NCAA Division II national champion Brigham Young-Hawai'i women's volleyball team used an ineligible player in 14 matches this season and will forfeit its Pacific West Conference championship and the automatic NCAA Tournament berth, the school announced yesterday.
Second-place Hawai'i Pacific will get the PacWest's automatic NCAA Tournament berth. BYUH will play host HPU tonight at 7:30.
The self-imposed penalty likely cost the second-ranked Seasiders who have four returning starters from last season's national championship team a chance for their 11th national title and their third NCAA Division II National Championship since 1999. BYUH can still earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, but that is unlikely, according to BYUH athletic director Ken Wagner.
It's believed to be the worst penalty BYUH has ever faced, and follows the highly publicized University of Hawai'i-Manoa men's volleyball sanctions that cost the Warriors their 2002 national title for using a player with professional experience.
"I really feel bad for the coaching staff and the girls," Wagner said. "Frankly, they deserve a chance to go to the national tournament. Yet, I also believe if we do have ineligible players, we need to be penalized."
The ineligible player, who was not identified by the school for privacy reasons, provided incorrect information to BYUH in failing to report that she had attended San Jose State for one day before coming to BYUH, Wagner said.
Per NCAA bylaws, the player should have been serving a transfer year this season, instead of playing, Wagner said. The school launched an investigation immediately upon being notified by the NCAA on Tuesday, Wagner said.
"I think everyone here did everything possible," said Wagner, who added the rest of the team is eligible. "I don't think anyone was trying to hide anything or was negligent. It was just a matter of us not knowing."
Reach Brandon Masuoka at firstname.lastname@example.org or 535-2458.